Inches and tiny margins

I experienced an incident recently which reminded me of the tiny margins between success and failure.

It brought back a scene I’ve watched many a time – Al Pacino’s last minute speech to his team in “Any Given Sunday.” Here’s a transcript of his note on inches.


You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that’s…part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small — I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us.

They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing!


It’s been more than a decade since I first heard this. It struck a chord then.

And, after many more experiences that have reinforced how much inches and small margins make a difference, it strikes an even deeper chord now.